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The Mediterranean Diet May Help The Brain & the Heart


Most of us have tuned into the plant based Mediterranean diet and its heart benefits with pleasure as we enjoyed leafy green salads, and tasty seafood or chicken dinners prepared with olive oil. Often healthy nuts and seeds were used too. And fresh fruits were served for dessert.

But now the news may be even better. New research shows possible brain related benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.

Harvard Health reports on a Spanish study of people in their sixties and seventies who were put in three diet groups. One followed the Mediterranean Diet and also ate mixed nuts like walnuts or almonds every day. Another group followed the Mediterranean Diet and added five extra tablespoons of olive oil a day. The third group ate a low fat diet. In the control group memory and thinking scores fell, while memory and thinking scores went up for both groups on Mediterranean diets.

The researchers say there is more testing to be done, but I think the direction is one we could all learn from. As we move through the years looking for good brain and heart foods, the components of the Mediterranean Diet could easily be used as one of the more healthy guidelines.

Researchers also tell us extra virgin olive oil and nuts contain compounds called polyphenols that fight inflammation in the brain.

When you consider how many diets become bogged down in heavy fats and chemical filled, processed foods, where pizza, burgers and donuts are readily available, this sounds like a better anti-aging path to try.

If you are considering the Mediterranean Diet start thinking in terms of fresh whole fruits with whole grain cereals for breakfast, tangy olive oil dressings on leafy greens and spinach salads topped with shrimp for lunch, and satisfying dinners with baked chicken, or grilled fish.

Along the way, there might be savory vegetable side dishes like parmesan dipped zucchini, sweet potatoes baked with garlic, or hearty black bean soups and tacos. A raspberry tart or a blueberry pie made with whole wheat flour and healthy oil might provide the finish. The diet is full of tempting, but healthy choices.

One possible downside would be added calories if too much olive oil was used. But when you weigh that against the calorie accumulation in cakes, donuts and cookies the choice seems obvious.

As always when you are considering making diet changes start with your doctor and a review of your health.

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